Patricia Michalska spoke with Magdalena Woch
Have you ever wondered what a kindergarten should look like? Would it be a modern building full of colors, or maybe classic interiors with neutral hues? What has the biggest significance when you make the one of the most difficult decisions concerning your child’s life? In ŚWIETLIKI, a Polish- English-French trilingual kindergarten, people are the key element. People, their passion and their genuine desire to help children progress – this is why ŚWIETLIKI is considered an excellent daycare centre.
Your mission statement says your centre’s focus is on people. What are your other priorities?
The children’s safety is paramount, starting from the building security staff, through to safety devices, ending with the teachers, who are best guardians of the kids’ safety and well-being. Using their instincts and experience, they watch over every aspect of a child’s behaviour, nurturing both direct and emotional safety.
Set up in 2010, you were the first kindergarten in Poland where children were simultanously exposed to 3 languages – English, French and Polish – within a 16 h per week framework. The Minister of Education refers to such an initiative as an “educational experiment”. Has the experiment been successful in your case?
We always wanted to create a unique place, different than any other. Familiarizing children with foreign languages has been a focal point of our program, and after 5 years in business we can safely say that our innovative methods and ideas for arousing curiosity about the world and languages in children have been very effective. Our alumni, taking away the knowledge and skills they have acquired in ŚWIETLIKI, go on to become top students at school, which is the next step in their educational journey. For us – psychologists, teachers and educators – it is the most meaningful praise and a great motivation to work.
Could you tell us more about your methodology? How do you immerse children in the world of languages?
We strive to create for children an environment similar to the one in bi- or many lingual families. we don’t want to just teach a language for 30 minutes per day. In ŚWIETLIKI, children need to use English and French twice a week, each for almost half a day at a time. They play games, do puzzles, participate in physical activities, learn in various real life situations, such as mealtimes, and they get to know the world in three languages concurrently. All the educational materials are presented to children in 3 linguistic versions. At the same time, we don’t forget about logical thinking, mathematical skills, as well as fine and gross motor skills. We introduce children to writing. All these can be tracked by parents in the children’s special activity logs.
Any other areas of focus worth mentioning?
We pay particular attention to emotional and social development. Today, in the world of computers and modern
media, communication skills are incredibly important. We teach how to cooperate and compete in a constructive way, and most importantly – how to recognise, name and show emotions to then use them in conflict resolution and relationships building. The kindergarten is a small community in which we use stories and everyday situations to build social skills and encourage dialogue. Our children use a code of conduct applicable in any real life circumstances.
Your centre is relatively small in size, with groups of 12 children each. What has made you decide that this format is appropriate for ŚWIETLIKI?
We want to make sure that no child becomes lost in the crowd. The size of the groups ensures almost individual approach to each child and to any problems this child might have at any given time: during a period of changes at home, when a sibling arrives. Not only does the family atmosphere make children feel much better, but also it is more comfortable for teachers. It’s easier to notice a problem, or to notice a talent which can then be nurtured via an individualized education program.
Who stands behind ŚWIETLIKI? Who are the people that work there?
We employ people that are passionate about working with children. We are a well-knit team of experts that can support and count on each other, and are always full of creative ideas. The owner of the kindergarten believes in the principle that kindness and collaboration are the best investment that always pays off.
Magdalena Woch – founder of ŚWIETLIKI kindergarten. Magdalena Woch is a founder of ŚWIETLIKI, Polish-English- French trilingual kindergarten. The mission of the institution is to create a safe, cozy place filled with warm, devoted people who are experts in early education, so that children can enter the world and explore it in many different ways while using all three languages. The centre’s key objectives are to broaden the children’s horizons; to give them a passport to a world without barriers and borders; and to promote diversity, tolerance and courage to cross the boundaries of their inner limits whilst building the foundations for self-confidence and creativity.Tagi: education, family, for kids, Fun, kindergarden, safety, swietliki